This early work by Rethel, renowned as the creator of the Aachen Frescos, was to become a bench mark of German portraiture in the nineteenth century. Painted when Rethel was a student under Wilhelm von Schadow at the Düsseldorf Academy, its style clearly shows the influence of the Nazarenes. The quality of the portrait is evident in the minute observation of detail that brings the subject so close to the viewer.


  • Title: Portait of the Artist's Mother
  • Creator: Alfred Rethel
  • Date Created: around 1835
  • Physical Dimensions: w47.0 x h61.0 cm
  • Type: Painting
  • Technique and material: Oil on canvas
  • Inv.-No.: A II 868
  • ISIL-No.: DE-MUS-815114
  • External link: Alte Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
  • Copyrights: Text: © Prestel Verlag / Alte Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Photo: © b p k - Photo Agency / Alte Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Andres Kilger
  • Collection: Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
  • Artist biography: Alfred Rethel was a German history painter of the late Romantic period. He started his artistic education at the drawing school in Aachen. In 1829 he continued his training at the Academy of Art in Düsseldorf and was an apprentice under Wilhelm von Schadow. During this time he mainly painted in the style of the Nazarene Brotherhood. In 1836 he moved to Frankfurt where he worked at the institute of art and received his first commissions to create frescoes. Three years later he won the competition to decorate the coronation room at the Aachen town hall. These frescoes are considered the pinnacle of his life’s work. He was also widely admired for his woodcut, 'Dance of Death' (1848). His style is characterized by a patriotic, pious ideal, exemplary for his time.
  • Artist Place of Death: Dusseldorf, Germany
  • Artist Place of Birth: Aachen, Germany
  • Artist Dates: 1816-05-15/1859-12-01

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